California lawmaker proposes allowing medical marijuana at school

A California lawmaker wants to make it legal, and easier, for medical marijuana to be administered to children at school after being inspired by a 18-year-old boy with epilepsy who says the CBD oil he takes daily is necessary to stop having seizures and attend class.

Sen. Jerry Hill’s legislation, SB 1127, was proposed on Tuesday, the same day that 10 children at James Lick Middle School in San Francisco vomited, felt dizzy and were sickened by eating rainbow-colored "medical marijuana" strips that someone illegally brought to school.

But Hill (D-San Mateo) is certainly not proposing that kids bring edibles to campus.

“This is different,” Hill insisted on Wednesday. “Most of the medical marijuana used for these childhood diseases mostly comes in oils, capsules, tinctures and topical creams. They’re not rainbow candies. They’re not cookies.”

Hill's inspiration comes from Giovanni "Jo Jo" Jiminez, a senior at South San Francisco High School, and his mother, Karina Garcia, both of South San Francisco. Jo Jo has suffered from epileptic seizures, off and on, since he was three months old. He suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, called  Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. He often wouldn't go to school, just lying in bed because of the violent seizures. His mother tried traditional Western medical remedies, to no avail. She finally found Elysium oil, made by Cannavalon Biosciences in Santa Cruz, which contains 21 mg of CBD and 1 gram of THC, the psychoactive agent in cannabis. She said she has established a complicated care plan at her school for how to administer the cannabis to her son during the day -- current law states that she can't bring the medicine within 1,000 feet of the campus. And she wants the hassle to end.

"My plan is to open the door and have people open their eyes to this medicine," Garcia said Thursday. 

As for the middle school kids who ingested the rainbow edibles? Garcia said, "Of course, I'm not advocating for children to bring their own medication to school and say 'Let's party for the day.' What they did set me and my movement back."

Here is what Hill's bill proposes:

  • Parents at K-12 public schools must administer the marijuana, medically prescribed by a doctor. The children cannot bring the medicine to school themselves. Parents must then leave school with the marijuana and take the drug off campus.
  • Parents or guardians would be allowed to apply the oil, capsule, liquid or cream on the school campus, like a private room in the office. Now, parents have to take their children 1,000 feet away from school to administer the medication.
  • Schools can either opt in or out of allowing it. (The bill doesn’t ask school nurses to administer the drug because medicinal marijuana is still illegal according to the federal government.) 
  • The medicinal marijuana does not have a high content of THC, the psychoactive agent found in recreational cannabis.
  •  SB 1127 expressly prohibits use of medicinal cannabis in smokeable or vapeable form at school. 

Washington, Colorado, Florida, Maine and New Jersey have passed legislation allowing medical cannabis to be administered to students at school.

As Hill announced the bill roughly a day ago, there has been no formal opposition to his proposal.

“It’s a little early,” he said. “ I’m sure there will be. no matter how much it makes sense. 

Hill learned about the issue when he was swearing in the new Half Moon Bay mayor a few months ago 

Nancy Magee, associate superintendent of the San Mateo County Office of Education’s Student Services Division, told him about JoJo. Hill was motivated to do something about it.

Garcia was actually celebrating out to lunch with a friend on Thursday because of her excitement around bill's introduction. But she also was wishing for more.

"I want the bill to be even stronger," she said. "Schools are so willing to administer opiates and pharmaceuticals to kids, why not this?"